Go West, Young Man! Ep. 73

The Erie Canal is divided up into three sections – Eastern, Central and Western.   Quite a few boaters do the Eastern canal, and then head north at Three Rivers Junction to the Oswego Canal, which takes you into Lake Ontario. There were a number of tricky shallow areas in the Eastern portion and we had considered this Oswego route to get us out of the canal and into the expanse of Lake Ontario, and thus avoid even shallower areas further west in the canal. But we had heard from multiple sources that the Western section was the most beautiful and we didn’t want to miss it. I was able to get ahold of the head of navigation and dredging at the NY State Canal Authority, which by the way is an amazing organization that deserves a whole blog post of it’s own. He quickly talked me into continuing west on the canal, all the way to its terminus at Buffalo. He put me at ease, letting me know that the shallow areas I saw on the charts had just been dredged, and that if we took it slow in sections, we’d have no problem. He re-affirmed that the Western Erie Canal is not to be missed. He added that if we headed to Lake Ontario, we’d have to uplock the Welland Canal (which circumvents Niagara Falls), and in the process have to hire crew to handle the lines, all while jockeying for position in the locks with lots of commercial traffic. Simply put, in his words, we’d be ‘second class citizens’ if we did the Welland. The Welland is actually in Canada, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him we weren’t citizens there, but his point was well taken. I couldn’t help but hear a bit of pride in his voice, implying that the Erie treats their pleasure boater citizens with first class, white glove service. Which they really do! But again that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Go West, Young Man! Ep. 73”

Embracing the Erie Canal Ep. 70

Above, we transit the Erie Canal as it narrows to pass under a railroad bridge (complete with passing train!) and then right into a lock!

We have been in the Erie canal for five full days now and in the 152 miles we have traveled in the canal, we’ve experienced 22 locks for a total lift of 419 feet and a drop of 51 feet. The first 20 locks were all up-locks … we experienced our first down-locking at locks 21 and 22 to drop us down to the height of Oneida Lake. The highest lift in a single lock was 40 feet and this lock (lock E-17) had so much water flowing into it that the boats were only allowed to secure themselves against the southern wall. The water flow from north to south as the chamber fills is so significant that boats are not able to hold themselves against the north wall. Continue reading “Embracing the Erie Canal Ep. 70”